Mindmap - Immersion and Meta Narrative

During my Master's class on creative inquiry we were asked for a form a question, and one of the triggers that was given to us to think about was recent projects. I haven't mentioned it much on here, but I'm working on horror game called "The Man Next Door" that involves breaking the traditional boundaries of what a game does, accessing mobile data etc. and so I decided to consider meta narrative and immersion techniques. To get me started I have put together this mind map, in attempt to answer "Are privacy limits something that should be considered when breaking boundaries with meta narrative?"

The mind map, click for a larger version

Now this is in no way complete, but is an idea of the various directions I can see this path taking. That's really all I had to do, however I want to talk about two games I played in the last 24 hours.

Both of these games are... odd. I can't talk about them too much without spoiling them, but I'm going to do my best. Also, please keep in mind both of these are on steam, cheap, and are kind of amazing adventures. I can't recommend them more.

Pony Island
Pony Island
So this one is hard to describe, but I think the best I can do is it's a weird meta adventure of being a trapped soul inside a computer that is controlled by Satan? And he forces you to play his shitty shovel ware for all eternity?

Yeah, that actually sounds right.

Along the way he attempts to trick you into giving you his soul in order to pass certain locked requirements of the games. This takes various forms throughout the game, from dark and nasty ones to overly humorous ones.

Release your soul!

A lot of the time the only way you can bypass sections is by find exploits in the game and giving yourself powers, which he doesn't care for. This is mainly done through bizarrely changing the games code through small mini games, but most of the time you are punished for what you do eventually.

But don't cheat

The game itself does all kinds of interesting things with your computer, from playing around with crashes to simulating all kinds of external interruptions in order to distract you from the actual goal of freeing yourself from the game. It's intensely emotional by the end and tries to find all kinds of way to screw you over.

The beginner's guide
The Beginner's Guide
Jesus, this game absolutely.. destroyed me. This game has been described many times as nothing more than a walking simulator. Sure, there are a couple of puzzles involved here and there but the game's narrator either skips you past them or solves them for you. But what this game feels like to me is an attempt to create an empathic link between the creator of the game and the audience. It's a story, told via small games, of a friend of the narrator who created the games you are playing. The narrator talks to you about how they make him feel, and about the creator.

It starts as purely him investigating the ideas of the games, what they must have meant to the creator and any deeper meaning to them. But by the end, it's a huge introspection on the narrator and his life.

I cannot say any more about this game, I don't want to ruin it. But this game pretty much rocked my world.


Part of the question I asked was about the effectiveness of breaking these immersion and meta narrative boundaries. And I cannot end this post without briefly talking about how the interactions with these two games in the last day have left me feeling. Both games I finished, before sitting there, staring at the screen. They both touched me emotionally to an incredible degree. The both made me reflect on myself as a person, as well as wonder what the creator has gone through to create such art.

Honestly, I'm still reeling.

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